Before you sip on your next glass of wine with dinner, consider this. Did you know that the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau allows winemakers to include 19 wine additive groups (This breaks down into approximately 70 different additives) during the winemaking process?
They also have the option to add many more, as long as they get FDA approval. So, there’s no way to tell what you’re consuming when you drink a glass of conventional wine.
By contrast, natural wine stems from organic or biodynamic growing, natural fermenting, and centuries old bottling principles. Here’s how it works.
Growing Grapes Naturally
Natural wine is low-intervention wine. That means winemakers aim to make wines with as little human intervention as possible.
This practice extends throughout the growing and harvesting season, right through fermenting, and culminates in sustainable bottling practices.
The grapes used to produce natural wine grow in rich volcanic soil that requires no fertilizer to support thriving vines.
Chickens and insect predators take care of pest patrol, and dogs make sure wildlife doesn’t snack on the vines. Vignerons cultivate the vines without introducing any chemical fertilizer or pesticides into the process.
Come harvest time, it’s a matter of ‘all hands on deck’ for manual harvesting of the grapes.
This gentle method of cultivating grapes ensures that natural soil microbes can continue their vital work unhindered.
Natural Wine Fermentation Process
After the harvest, the grapes undergo crushing, and the first fermentation process gets underway. Indigenous yeasts found in the air and on the grape skins do most of the work at this stage. At this point, the winemaker, to steward the process to a desired result, can choose to supplement with natural, very ancient, isolated strains of yeast and bacteria.
These microorganisms start the transformation of sweet grape juice into something entirely different. Once the yeast has done as much as it can, the grapes begin a second fermentation process inside oak wood barrels, where bacteria complete the process.
Most commercial wines in your local stores won’t see a barrel at all, and the remainder of commercially-produced wines only see the inside of a barrel for a few months. Natural winemakers never rush the process because, for nearly all wines, the best wines take time and most certainly much more time than a few months to mature to flavors wine consumers would appreciate.
Keeping the wines in barrels for longer ensures they develop more complex, full flavors.
It’s important to introduce a few additional sulfites in wine to reduce oxidation during the aging process. It is also interesting to know that the United States stands alone among the several winemaking nations in singling out sulfur as dubious. In fact, those other prominent winemaking nations, such as those in Europe find sulfur a necessity and consider it to be organic.
Besides sulfur, the only other additive having steeped history over the past winemaking millennia, is literally dirt – specifically clay. A little clay is added to some white wines to naturally bond to and precipitate out a protein in wine that can cause clouding.
Nothing synthetic makes its way into a bottle of natural wine, ensuring the best natural flavors of the fermented grapes and their terroir is present when you drink it.
Although mechanical filtration (not enzymatically or chemically induced) can be used in naturally made wines, non of our red wines or chardonnay undergo filtration.
Once the wine reaches its full potential, it’s bottled in recyclable glass bottles and sealed with sustainable cork stoppers.
If you’re serious about wine, surely you want to enjoy it in its most natural form while protecting the environment it’s grown in. Equally, you may run into adverse health effects to some of the litany of approved additives that may be in your wine that do not have to be listed, and aren’t listed, as ingredients on the wine label.
It is our opinion that responsible winemakers grow their grapes according to natural methods. After that, although it is more costly by far, it seems obvious that natural winemaking and time consuming winemaking practices make the the best wine for your palate and your health.
Are you ready to try truly untainted award winning wine available today? Join us for a wine tasting to introduce you to the world of natural wine, or order your first bottle online today.